Cal. High-Speed Rail Auth. v. Superior Court of Sacramento Cnty.

Citation175 Cal.Rptr.3d 448,228 Cal.App.4th 676
Decision Date31 July 2014
Docket NumberC075668
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
PartiesCALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY et al., Petitioners, v. The SUPERIOR COURT of Sacramento County, Respondent; John Tos et al., Real Parties in Interest.

228 Cal.App.4th 676
175 Cal.Rptr.3d 448

The SUPERIOR COURT of Sacramento County, Respondent;
John Tos et al., Real Parties in Interest.


Court of Appeal,
Third District, California.

Filed July 31, 2014

See 1 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (10th ed. 2005) Contracts, § 648.

Limited on Constitutional Grounds

Str. & H. Code § 2704.08(c)(2).

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING in mandate. Alternative writ of mandate issued. (Super. Ct. Nos. 34201100113919CUMCGDS, 34201300140689CUMCGDS)

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Kathleen A. Kenealy, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Douglas J. Woods, Assistant Attorney General, Constance L. LeLouis, Tamar Pachter, Sharon L. O'Grady, Paul Stein, Stephanie F. Zook, and Ross C. Moody, Deputy Attorneys General, for Petitioners.

Hanson Bridgett, David J. Miller, and Julia H. Veit, San Francisco, for Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board and San Mateo County Transit District as Amici Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

Adrienne D. Weil for Metropolitan Transportation Commission as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

Robert Fabela for Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

Therese M. Stewart, Chief Deputy City Attorney, for City and County of San Francisco as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

Altshuler Berzon, Scott A. Kronland, and Connie K. Chan, San Francisco, for State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, AFL–CIO, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

Gresham Savage Nolan & Tilden, Ellen Berkowitz, Los Angeles, Stefanie G. Field, Riverside, Daniel F. Freedman, Sherman Oaks; Kelly Crane Law and Peter D. Kelly, III, for the Hon. Cathleen Galgiani, California State Senator, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

John F. Krattli, County Counsel, Charles M. Safer, Assistant County Counsel, and Richard P. Chastang, Principal Deputy County Counsel, for Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

Joanna G. Africa for Southern California Association of Governments as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

No appearance for Respondent.

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation, Jonathan M. Coupal and Timothy A. Bittle, Sacramento, for Real Party in Interest Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Griswold, LaSalle, Cobb, Dowd & Gin, and Raymond L. Carlson, Hanford, for Real Parties in Interest Kings County Water District and Citizens for California High–Speed Rail Accountability.

Law Offices of Stuart M. Flashman, Stuart M. Flashman, Oakland; and Michael J. Brady for Real Parties in Interest John Tos, Aaron Fukuda, and County of Kings.

Theresa A. Goldner, County Counsel, Mark L. Nations, Chief Deputy County Counsel, and Nicole M. Misner, Deputy County Counsel, for Real Party in Interest County of Kern.

Pillsbury WinthropShaw Pittman, Andrew D. Bluth, Sacramento, Michael R. Barr, Los Angeles, Kevin M. Fong, San Francisco, and Blaine I. Green for Real Party in Interest Union Pacific Railroad Company.

Pacific Legal Foundation, Meriem L. Hubbard, Harold E. Johnson, and Ralph W. Kasarda, Sacramento, for Real Party in Interest First Free Will Baptist Church.


[228 Cal.App.4th 684]

Substantial legal questions loom in the trial court as to whether the high-speed rail project the California High–Speed Rail Authority (Authority) seeks to build is the project approved by the voters in 2008. Substantial financial and environmental questions remain to be answered by the Authority in the final funding plan the voters required for each corridor or usable segment of the project. (Sts. & Hy.Code, § 2704.08, subd. (d).) 1 But those questions are not before us in these validation and mandamus proceedings. The scope of our decision is quite narrow. Applying time-honored principles of statutory construction, separation of powers, and the availability of extraordinary writ relief, we conclude:

1. Contrary to the trial court's determination, the High–Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee properly found that issuance of bonds for the project was necessary or desirable.

2. The preliminary section 2704.08, subdivision (c) funding plan was intended to provide guidance to the Legislature in acting on the Authority's appropriation request. Because the Legislature appropriated bond proceeds following receipt of the preliminary funding plan approved by the Authority, the preliminary funding plan has served its purpose. A writ of mandamus will not lie to compel the idle act of rescinding and redoing it.

We therefore will issue a peremptory writ of mandate directing the trial court to enter judgment validating the authorization of the bond issuance for purposes of the 2008 voter approved Safe, Reliable High–Speed Passenger Train Bond Act. (Bond Act) (§ 2704 et seq.; see § 2704.04, subd. (a).) Further challenges by real parties in interest to the use of bond proceeds are premature. The writ will also compel the trial court to vacate its rulings requiring the Authority to perform the idle act of redoing the preliminary section 2704.08, subdivision (c) funding plan after the Legislature appropriated the bond funds.


On November 4, 2008, the voters of California passed Proposition 1A, the Bond Act, “to initiate the construction of a high-speed train system that

[228 Cal.App.4th 685]

connects the San Francisco Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim, and links the state's major population centers, including Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Orange County, and San Diego....” (§ 2704.04, subd. (a); see § 2704 et seq.) The Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of $9.95 billion in general obligation bonds “upon appropriation by the Legislature” (§ 2704.04, subd. (b)(1); see § 2704.10) to begin construction of a high-speed train system in California “consistent with the [A]uthority's certified environmental impact reports of November 2005 and July 9, 2008, as subsequently modified pursuant to environmental studies conducted by the [A]uthority” (§ 2704.06).

The Bond Act sets forth specific criteria for the bond proceeds as well as for the design and capacity of the system. For instance, no more than $950 million of bond proceeds can be used for non-high-speed rail connectivity with high-speed rail lines. (§ 2704.095.) High-speed rail, the Act provides, will feature electric trains capable of operating at speeds of 200 miles per hour or greater, guaranteed maximum travel times between major destinations, and achievable operating headway (time between successive trains) of five minutes or less. (§ 2704.09, subds. (a), (b) & (c).)

The Authority is the administrative body with primary responsibility for overseeing the planning and construction of the high-speed rail system. (Sts. & Hy.Code, § 2704.01, term (b); Pub. Util.Code, § 185020.) The Authority is subject to the terms of the financing program set forth in article 2 and the fiscal provisions set forth in article 3 of the Bond Act. (Sts. & Hy.Code, §§ 2704.04 et seq., 2704.10 et seq.) The Argument in favor of Proposition 1A promised the voters: “Proposition 1A will protect taxpayer interests. [¶] ? Public oversight and detailed independent review of financing plans. [¶] ? Matching private and federal funding to be identified BEFORE state bond funds are spent. [¶] ? 90% of the bond funds to be spent on system construction, not more studies, plans, and engineering activities.” (Voter Information Guide, General Elec. (Nov. 4, 2008) argument in favor of Prop. 1A, p. 6.)

The Bond Act incorporates by reference the State General Obligation Bond Law, Government Code section 16720 et seq. (Bond Law), which provides a uniform procedure for authorizing the issuance, sale, and repayment of general obligation bonds on behalf of the state. (Sts. & Hy.Code, § 2704.11.) The Bond Act designates the Authority to act as the “board” for purposes of all Bond Law procedures (Sts. & Hy.Code, § 2704.12, subd. (b)), including the authority to request that the “[c]ommittee” authorize the issuance of bonds (Gov.Code, § 16722, term (d)). The Bond Act also creates a High–Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee (Finance Committee) to serve in the same capacity as the

[228 Cal.App.4th 686]

“[c]ommittee” named in the Bond Law, “[s]olely for the purpose of authorizing the issuance and sale of the bonds authorized by [the Bond Act].” (Sts. & Hy.Code, § 2704.12, subd. (a).)

Article 2, section 2704.08 is at the heart of the writ proceeding now before us. Pursuant to subdivision (a) of section 2704.08, the bond proceeds cannot be used for more than 50 percent of the total cost of construction for each usable segment or corridor. “Corridor,” as used in the Bond Act, is “a portion of the high-speed train system as described in Section 2704.04” (§ 2704.01, term (f)),3 and “usable segment” is “a portion of a corridor that includes at least two stations” ( § 2704.01, term (g)). Section 2704.08 compels the Authority to prepare a preliminary funding plan ( § 2704.08, subd. (c)) before the Legislature appropriates the funds and a final funding plan ( § 2704.08, subd. (d)) before the proceeds of bonds are committed for expenditure.4 We must determine whether a writ of mandamus is an appropriate remedy when, despite receipt of an allegedly deficient preliminary funding plan, the Legislature appropriates the requested funds, thereby authorizing the issuance and sale of bonds.

Streets and Highways Code section 2704.08, subdivision (c) provides as follows: “(c)(1) No later than 90 days prior to the submittal to the Legislature and the Governor of the initial request for appropriation of proceeds of bonds authorized by this chapter for any eligible capital costs on each corridor, or usable segment thereof ... the authority shall have approved and submitted to the Director of Finance, the peer review group established pursuant to


To continue reading

Request your trial
9 cases
  • Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Cal. Dep't of Forestry & Fire Prot.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 2, 2014
    ...of law. This is a highly deferential test. [Citation.]’ [Citation.]” ( California High–Speed Rail Authority v. Superior Court (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 676, 699, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d...
  • New Livable Cal. v. Ass'n of Bay Area Governments
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 18, 2020
    ...TransparentGov Novato , supra , 34 Cal.App.5th at pp. 146, 151, 152, 246 Cal.Rptr.3d 17 ; California High-Speed Rail Authority v. Superior Court (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 676, 693, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d 448 ; County of San Diego v. State of California (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 580, 590-591, 79 Cal.Rptr......
  • Cal. Bldg. Indus. Ass'n v. Bay Area Air Quality Mgmt. Dist.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 12, 2016 set aside interim actions by an agency during a multilayered review process. (California High–Speed Rail Authority v. Superior Court (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 676, 708–713, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d 448 [no present duty to redo preliminary funding plan]; California Water Impact Network v. Newhall Cou......
  • Issues Arising under FRAs Implementation of California High-Speed Rail Authority Grant Tapered Match Provision
    • United States
    • Comptroller General of the United States
    • December 18, 2015
    ...Aug. 16, 2013); 2013 WL 6184096 (Cal. Super. Ct., Sacramento, Nov. 25, 2013). [87] Cal. High-Speed Rail Auth. v. Cal. Super. Ct., 175 Cal.Rptr.3d 448, 472 (App. 3 Dist. 2014). [88] Id., 175 Cal.Rptr.3d at 476 (discussing Cal. Sen. Bill 1029 (July 18, 2012)). [89] Cal. High-Speed Rail Auth. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT